Most people put a case on their tablet to add some protection, but Otterbox used CES 2017 to announce a case that also includes slots for modules that expand the iPad’s features. We were able to spend some time with a prototype uniVERSE for iPad Air 2 and 9.7-inch iPad Pro at this tradeshow.
Design and Build
Otterbox makes some of the most popular rugged cases for a wide range of tablets and phones. Aside from its other features, the uniVERSE Case for Apple’s recent 9.7-inch tablets is designed to protect these expensive computers from “drops, bumps and fumbles”. There’s a hard polycarbonate exterior while a raised edge made of synthetic rubber helps protect the display. The interior is also made of synthetic rubber.
Our preliminary experience with a couple of prototypes indicated that this case should live up to Otterbox’s reputation for quality. It will be available in both black and clear, but the ones we saw were both clear.
On the back of the case is pair of slots that can hold a range of accessories from the uniVERSE line, such as an external battery or additional storage. More options just announced at CES include a Bluetooth tracker and a laser measurement system.
Some of these accessories have to be plugged into the iPad’s Lightning port, and naturally only one of these can be used at a time, but others communicate with the tablet over Bluetooth.
One of the disadvantages of hardcases is they often block the use of add-on keyboards. Otterbox designed its first uniVERSE Case for tablets specifically to work with the Brydge 9.7, a highly-functional keyboard for iPad models, turning this computer into a rugged 2-in-1. A removable plate makes room for the Brydge’s clips/hinges.
Unlike the smartphone version, the tablet uniVERSE boasts a new center connection point for mounting other accessories. For example, a magnetic positioning arm intended for hands-free work was announced at CES this week.
OtterBox uniVERSE Case Preliminary Conclusion
Otterbox says the uniVERSE Case System is “coming soon” for iPad Air 2 and 9.7-inch iPad Pro. It is priced at $79.95. Modules range from $50 to $120 and up, depending on their features.
We expect to do a full review of this product when it gets nearer to release, at which time we’ll be able to test it much more extensively. All we can really say now is that our early impressions are quite positive.